Strike hurting German airline

FRANKFURT — Deutsche Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, cancelled hundreds of flights in Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich today as cabin crew launched a second round of strikes in a row over pay and conditions.

The strike action follows a walkout on Friday that left 26,000 passengers stranded and caused millions of euros in lost revenues.

“It is difficult for the company to cushion the impact. We cannot just get new flight attendants, and the personnel buffer is limited,” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walther said.

While Germany has a track record of mostly harmonious labor relations compared with other major European countries such as France, its airlines and airports have been hit by a string of disputes in recent years as companies battle to cut costs to cope with the rise of low-cost carriers, soaring fuel prices, fast-growing Middle East airlines and an air travel tax.

No stranger to strikes

A strike by Lufthansa pilots in 2010 caused more than 2,800 flight cancellations, and earlier this year a strike by airfield staff at Frankfurt airport also hit Lufthansa’s business.

Trade union UFO, which represents around two thirds of Lufthansa’s 18,000 cabin crew, called for eight hours of strikes in Frankfurt and Berlin and 11 hours in Munich today.

Talks between Lufthansa and UFO broke down a week ago, having failed to result in an agreement for 13 months, and have so far not resumed.

The union wants a 5 per cent pay increase and guarantees against outsourcing and the use of temporary workers.

Lufthansa, which is slashing costs in a bid to boost its earnings by ‚1.5 billion, says it will not improve its offer to raise pay by 3.5 per cent in exchange for longer hours. (Reuters)

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